Matching Items (3)

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Skip the Trip: Air Travelers' Behavioral Responses to Pandemic Influenza

Description

Theory suggests that human behavior has implications for disease spread. We examine the hypothesis that individuals engage in voluntary defensive behavior during an epidemic. We estimate the number of passengers

Theory suggests that human behavior has implications for disease spread. We examine the hypothesis that individuals engage in voluntary defensive behavior during an epidemic. We estimate the number of passengers missing previously purchased flights as a function of concern for swine flu or A/H1N1 influenza using 1.7 million detailed flight records, Google Trends, and the World Health Organization's FluNet data. We estimate that concern over “swine flu,” as measured by Google Trends, accounted for 0.34% of missed flights during the epidemic. The Google Trends data correlates strongly with media attention, but poorly (at times negatively) with reported cases in FluNet. Passengers show no response to reported cases. Passengers skipping their purchased trips forwent at least $50 M in travel related benefits. Responding to actual cases would have cut this estimate in half. Thus, people appear to respond to an epidemic by voluntarily engaging in self-protection behavior, but this behavior may not be responsive to objective measures of risk. Clearer risk communication could substantially reduce epidemic costs. People undertaking costly risk reduction behavior, for example, forgoing nonrefundable flights, suggests they may also make less costly behavior adjustments to avoid infection. Accounting for defensive behaviors may be important for forecasting epidemics, but linking behavior with epidemics likely requires consideration of risk communication.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013-03-20

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Merging Economics and Epidemiology to Improve the Prediction and Management of Infectious Disease

Description

Mathematical epidemiology, one of the oldest and richest areas in mathematical biology, has significantly enhanced our understanding of how pathogens emerge, evolve, and spread. Classical epidemiological models, the standard for

Mathematical epidemiology, one of the oldest and richest areas in mathematical biology, has significantly enhanced our understanding of how pathogens emerge, evolve, and spread. Classical epidemiological models, the standard for predicting and managing the spread of infectious disease, assume that contacts between susceptible and infectious individuals depend on their relative frequency in the population. The behavioral factors that underpin contact rates are not generally addressed. There is, however, an emerging a class of models that addresses the feedbacks between infectious disease dynamics and the behavioral decisions driving host contact. Referred to as “economic epidemiology” or “epidemiological economics,” the approach explores the determinants of decisions about the number and type of contacts made by individuals, using insights and methods from economics. We show how the approach has the potential both to improve predictions of the course of infectious disease, and to support development of novel approaches to infectious disease management.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-12-01

Accounting for behavioral responses during a flu epidemic using home television viewing

Description

Background
Theory suggests that individual behavioral responses impact the spread of flu-like illnesses, but this has been difficult to empirically characterize. Social distancing is an important component of behavioral response,

Background
Theory suggests that individual behavioral responses impact the spread of flu-like illnesses, but this has been difficult to empirically characterize. Social distancing is an important component of behavioral response, though analyses have been limited by a lack of behavioral data. Our objective is to use media data to characterize social distancing behavior in order to empirically inform explanatory and predictive epidemiological models.
Methods
We use data on variation in home television viewing as a proxy for variation in time spent in the home and, by extension, contact. This behavioral proxy is imperfect but appealing since information on a rich and representative sample is collected using consistent techniques across time and most major cities. We study the April-May 2009 outbreak of A/H1N1 in Central Mexico and examine the dynamic behavioral response in aggregate and contrast the observed patterns of various demographic subgroups. We develop and calibrate a dynamic behavioral model of disease transmission informed by the proxy data on daily variation in contact rates and compare it to a standard (non-adaptive) model and a fixed effects model that crudely captures behavior.
Results
We find that after a demonstrable initial behavioral response (consistent with social distancing) at the onset of the outbreak, there was attenuation in the response before the conclusion of the public health intervention. We find substantial differences in the behavioral response across age subgroups and socioeconomic levels. We also find that the dynamic behavioral and fixed effects transmission models better account for variation in new confirmed cases, generate more stable estimates of the baseline rate of transmission over time and predict the number of new cases over a short horizon with substantially less error.
Conclusions
Results suggest that A/H1N1 had an innate transmission potential greater than previously thought but this was masked by behavioral responses. Observed differences in behavioral response across demographic groups indicate a potential benefit from targeting social distancing outreach efforts.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-01-23